On Zinnias

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Zinnia - October 9, 2015

Earth Zinnia – October 9, 2015

It is nearing the end of January. While other gardeners are sharing wondrous drifts of snowdrops and crocuses, zinnias have been on my mind the past couple of weeks.

I was excited by astronaut Scott Kelly’s tweet on January 16, 2016 from the International Space Station announcing “First ever flower grown in space makes its debut!”

Zinnias are flowers from my childhood and rarely does a summer go by without a bright stand of them in my garden. Easy to grow, they come in rich colors, are long-lasting as cut flowers and attract butterflies, bees and other pollinators. I like the idea of zinnias in space.

Growing zinnias is an important milestone in NASA’s Veggie project as scientists strive to understand how plants grow in microgravity. (Tomatoes are scheduled on 2017.)

Well, oops, it turns out a sunflower had been grown in June 2012 on the shuttle, so the zinnia was not actually the first flower grown in space after all.

But no wonder Kelly was excited to see this bloom. He had been granted gardening autonomy to oversee the zinnia plants after reporting to the ground support that the plants were drying out too much.  He wanted to water them and was given permission to skip the protocol that would have had him wait several more days. [Read more: How Mold on Space Station Flowers is Helping Get Us to Mars.]

Now Kelly has shared another photo of the zinnias and a bit of gardening wisdom:  “garden proving through challenge and continuous effort comes growth.”

 

 

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22 thoughts on “On Zinnias

  1. Cathy

    Now that must be a gardening challenge indeed! My thoughts are slowly turning towards seed- buying for summer annuals. I have a few seeds from last year but would love to try something completely different this year. 🙂

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Zinnias are one of the few successes I’ve had growing from seeds because I can direct sow them. Have fun looking through catalogs for some special inspiration Cathy!

      Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      That’s a shame Judy. Japanese Beetles have not been a problem here in a few years and I don’t know why unless the moles/voles are eating the grubs.

      Reply
  2. Frogend_dweller

    I was excited to see that tweet too. The soviets have several earlier claims on the first flower in space I see though, but the zinnia is the most impressive. I am going to try to grow a green zinnia this year (Benary’s giant lime), so fingers-crossed.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Hope your green zinnia is successful. I tried green ones last year (will have to find the package label to remember the name) but they fizzled right out. Perhaps I should try again.

      Reply
  3. casa mariposa

    As a science teacher, I’ve been following the story about the zinnias and thought it was ridiculous that he was being micromanaged about when to water them! Not only is growing flowers fun for the crew but it’s also a morale booster and brings some color to the ISS. Zinnias are also one of my favorite flowers, too. I grow them every summer. 🙂

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      There are photos of the astronauts tasting lettuce they grew as well Donna. I should think it would be wonderful to have something freshly grown to eat.

      Reply
  4. Christina

    As a new convert to the beauties of Zinnias I come with all the zeal of the convert. I have bought far too many different packs of seed for this year! I am trying to resist sowing them just yet as I think they need more heat and light after they germinate that I gave them last year; that said they were a great success so I’m looking forward to many vases from them this year.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Zinnias do seem to thrive on heat so you’re probably doing the right thing to hold off a bit. Will be fun to see your zinnia-filled arrangements.

      Reply
  5. rickii

    Just saw The Martian, with Matt Damon growing potatoes on Mars for sustenance. Stirring movie, bringing nations together to get him home. I think a few Zinnias would have fed his soul.

    Reply

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